Sunset on Lake Superior Coast

Don’t Make these Mistakes Camping on the North Shore of Lake Superior

I have been itching for the opportunity to get up to the north shore and spend some time. Camping has always been in my blood. Since getting married and having kids, has been something that has been put on the backburner.

So when daycare had the week off, I convinced my husband to spend the week up on Lake Superior. Our past couple of camping trips with the kids have not been ideal.

We ended up going when the weather was unbearable and the bug have been so bad, I was determined to make this camping trip a success.

Before we left, we checked the weather, not too hot. We sent the dogs to a nice doggy hotel for the week to take some stress off us.

I decided to get a screened-in room to protect us from the bugs and a couple of fans in case the tent is hot at night.

I didn’t want to track down our old comforter for the airbed, so we just brought a couple of throws to keep us warm. Meals and car snacks have been prepped. What can go wrong?

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Weather on the North Shore

We get up by Lake Superior and the weather is perfect. No bugs, not much wind. Everything was perfect. We heard that it might rain that night so we decided to get moving on the shelter and dinner.

We get all set up and dinner finished and we get word on our radios that the storm is on its way. Ok… no big deal… get the kids prepared in the tent with activities and snacks. It was their normal bedtime anyway.

Burgers of the Fire at Gooseberry Falls State Park

A Storm Brewing

That’s when the storm report is starting to sound a little more severe. We see one of our neighbors get in their car and head out. My husband and I start to have the conversation of, “should we wait it out in the tents or get in the car and go for a drive”. The ranger makes the decision for us.

She pulls up and says, “hail, wind gusts of 70 miles per hour, and down trees are expected. We recommend you go to the stone lodge”. Really! If it was just my husband and myself, we may have risked it in the car.

With the kids, we were not going to take the chance. We secured the tent and moved everything away from the walls of the tent, tossed the kids in the car, and headed out.

The Lady Slipper Lodge she pointed us to was amazing. Plenty of benches and tables to hang out at. It smelled like camp.

The entrance had a great enclosed porch, so you could look out in safety as you watched the storm. The inside was so hidden from the storm, I’m not even sure the kids knew what was going on.

We had a great time hanging out and playing with the walkie-talkies. All the other families with young kids joined us there.

As the storm ended, a huge rainbow greeted us right outside. We took a quick trip over to the shoreline of Lake Superior and the view was breathtaking. It was the perfect end.

The Aftermath

We came back to our tent to find no damage, thankfully. The only problem was we didn’t pull the rainfly taut enough and water had pooled and then leaked right onto our beds.

I was able to correct the rainfly and dry up as best we could. We decided to make it an early night since it was going to rain again later that night.

That is when it started to get cold. So cold we could see our breath. I found that the blankets my husband and I had were not big enough to cover us entirely from head to toe.

My daughter had the only sleeping bag, but at some point in the night, she got scared and decided to jump into bed with me.

She has now taken the majority of the blanket. My husband got up to re-cover my son in the pack and play. We all snuggle together shivering, with the only sleeping bag at the far end of the tent unoccupied. 

Early Mornings

We woke up to a bright tent after struggling to sleep the whole night. ‘Morning, Finally!” I think maybe it will be warmer now. The whole place is dead silent. It is still freezing outside.

Our son is still sleeping in the tent as we start breakfast. He looks so peaceful, it’s hard to wake him up. We finally decided to go in and get the keys out of the tent to get into the warm shelter of the car. We turn the car on to see it’s only 5:30 am.

By the time 6 am rolls around we decide to pull the plug and wake him up. After all, that is when he normally gets us up at home. Off we went, out to visit Gooseberry Falls and get some warmer blankets.

Dew Drops on Grass by Lake Superior

One thing that I forgot about camping on the north shore is the temperature changes all the time. During the day in our campground, it got up to the upper 80s. We wanted to disparately get to someplace cooler with a breeze.

We would wander to the shore and find that it’s closer to 60 degrees and windy. As soon as we got back to the campground, we were back in the extreme heat. Around 5pm, the breeze that was on Lake Superior found its way into our camp like someone just flipped the AC switch.

I spent the night with two layers of pants and three shirts huddled inches from the fire. Thankfully the blanket we bought was perfect to keep us warm the second night and we convinced my daughter that it would be warmer if she stayed in her sleeping bag at night. We all slept like babies.

My Lesson:

In an effort to pack light, I neglected the fact that the temperature could be cold. I forgot some of the basic rules of camping. Prepare for anything and dress in layers. When in doubt… bring it.

This probably hasn’t been one of my finest moments camping, but we made the best of it. Now is your turn to make me feel a little better, what was your worst camping experience? Don’t forget to check out some of these great North Shore Stops.

Through the Lens of a 5 Yr Old

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The Truck

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